Itchy skin and menopause

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Itchy skin during the menopause

Eileen talks about: Itchy skin

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An introduction to itchy skin and menopause

An itch occurs when your skin is irritated. This can be triggered by a number of causes – from insects landing on you to allergies and skin disorders. The skin irritant triggers a nerve reflex and the urge to scratch – this is designed to protect your skin by getting rid of the cause as quickly as possible.

When the itch becomes constant, it can lead to an irresistible urge to scratch a specific area on your skin even when there is no obvious cause. Excessive itching can lead to dry or flaky skin or even bleeding.

Itchy skin can be caused by the menopause, sometimes affecting large areas of the body.

Why is the menopause giving me itchy skin?

As you go through the menopause, levels of the hormone oestrogen begin to drop.

Oestrogen has a number of functions, including regulating the moisture levels of your tissues and stimulating the production of collagen. Collagen is a fibre that improves the strength and elasticity of skin – low levels of collagen can lead to the formation of wrinkles.

As the level of oestrogen in your body falls, so does the amount of collagen and skin-moistening oils produced. This causes your skin to become dry and irritated. You may first notice this around the T-zone of your face although it can spread over your whole body.

Raised stress levels can exacerbate itching as stress triggers the release of histamine, which can cause flushing, itching and sometimes skin rashes. As many mid-life women are dealing with stressful circumstances, working to support and calm the nervous system is important.

If levels of uric acid rise, due to dehydration and/or excess intake of caffeinated drinks, discomfort and itching can worsen. This factor may also contribute to soreness in the joints, another one of the common menopause symptoms.

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Diet, lifestyle and home remedies for itchy skin

Keeping your skin moisturised is one of the most effective means of relieving itchy skin. When you take a bath or shower, do not use steaming hot water, as this will strip your skin of essential oils. Warm water is the gentlest. Only use mild unscented soap as perfumes can aggravate your skin. Exfoliate and moisturise your skin as soon as you are out of the shower or bath and dried off.

Drinking plenty of water will keep your skin hydrated. It is also worth remembering that alcohol and nicotine prematurely age your skin and dry it out. This will increase the chances of it becoming itchy, so cutting down on smoking and drinking would be sensible.

What you wear can affect how severe your itchiness can become. Wool and some synthetic fibres can irritate even the hardiest of skins, so wear cotton and loose fitting clothes. As with soap, avoid any perfumed washing detergents or softeners.

What herbal remedies could help me?

A good remedy to start with is the extract of soy. This supplement may be used before, during and after the menopause and can help with a wide variety of mild complaints experienced during this time of life.

“Menopause support tablets have eased my problems. I would recommend them to any one suffering the effects of the menopause.”

Although itchy skin during the menopause is best treated ‘from the inside’ some woman find that Neem can be useful to soothe the skin whilst other steps taken work their way through the body.

“I loved this! Very useful, not just for dry skin but also soothed insect bites. A lovely light cream with a very natural feel.exactly what it says on the pot. I deem Neem cream a dream.”

Conventional medicines for itchy skin

There are some conventional medicines which can help relieve your itchy skin, including:

  • Mild steroid creams – these can be bought over-the-counter or on prescription from your doctor. They are for short term use (no longer than a week) and for localised areas of itchy skin
  • Anti-histamines – these are allergy treatments, although some women find them helpful for itchy skin caused by the menopause. They are available in many forms including tablets and creams
  • Benzocaine – this is an example of a local anaesthetic which is available as a cream and can be applied directly to the skin.

If your itching is caused by or worsened by another condition such as eczema or psoriasis then treating this condition will bring the most effective relief. If you are worried about your itchy skin then it is advisable to go to your doctor.

As if your sleep weren’t interrupted enough by anxiety and night sweats (and possibly anxiety about night sweats), now there’s a new irritant in town: itchy menopause skin. Which, for me at least, seems particularly noticeable at night.

So our April Symptom of the Month is what’s getting under your skin.

Is itchy skin a symptom of menopause?

If you’re over 40, you may have noticed parts of your body getting drier: eyes, hair, fingernails, vagina… As with most of the weirdness of aging, changes in hormones are responsible for making damp things dry (vagina, eyes) and dry things moist (underpants, business suits, pajamas – hello, incontinence, hot flashes, and night sweats!)

Dry, itchy skin is no different. According to WebMD, our reproductive hormone estrogen is responsible for triggering the body’s production of collagen and body oils. The hormone also makes it easier for our body to retain its natural moisture. As estrogen declines in perimenopause and menopause, so does our body’s moisture, resulting in dry, itchy skin, irritation, small bumps, and occasionally even a rash.

Unfortunately, your body never regains its ability to create and retain moisture the way it did in your youth. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to relieve the itch and moisturize your dry bits, or address those pesky menopause hives.

When is it maybe more than menopause?*

According to the Women’s Health Network, if your skin is not only dry but has a yellowish tinge and is cold to the touch, you might want to ask your doctor to check your thyroid. If you find you are often too cold or too hot, and you’re experiencing unexplained changes in body weight, these can also be indicators of a thyroid imbalance that may need medical care.

How can I treat my dry, itchy menopause skin?*

  1. Get fats. Not just any fats, though; you want the good kinds of fats that nourish your body and skin. You’ve lost natural oils, but essential fatty acids can help replace them and keep your skin better hydrated. Think Omega-3s: salmon, eggs, some nuts and seeds. SELFNutritionData provides an astonishingly comprehensive list of foods with Omega-3s.
  2. Slather on the sunscreen. It may not replace the moisture that’s lost, but it can help protect your skin from further sun damage. Go SPF 15 or higher to block out the bad rays, but remember you’re also blocking your body’s ability to produce Vitamin D, so if you’re fanatical about the sunscreen, consider a D supplement.
  3. Shower smart. Super hot water can be damaging, as can harsh soaps. Choose gentle cleansers designed for sensitive skin and learn to embrace the tepid.
  4. Moisturize. What nature hath taken away, you can giveth yourself back again. But there are a lot of choices out there – which one will really moisturize and protect? I asked Valeria Cole, founder and CEO of Teadora and expert on all things skin care, for her advice on managing menopause skin:

“I would say use an oil-based product with high fatty-acid content, so it absorbs quickly and provides deeper hydration, but also look for oils that have anti-inflammatory properties. Stay away from sulfates and toxic ingredients which tend to dry skin even further, causing increased menopausal itching and burning. Teadora’s Brazilian Glow Radiance and Renewal Oil contains a cocktail of 5 superfruit oils rich in vitamins, anti-oxidants and oileic and fatty acids, including Buriti, a Brazilian rainforest superfruit oil with great anti-inflammatory properties.” (Bonus: Teadora’s products are sustainably harvested, vegan, and all kinds of socially responsible.)

Like much of menopause, you don’t have to take the symptoms lying down. Good nutrition and the right soaps and moisturizers can help you get back some lost moisture so your skin keeps its elasticity and loses the itch. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

What’s worked for you? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook!

*The information contained in our blogs is never intended to replace advice and treatment by a medical professional. If you feel your symptoms are severe or may be caused by something other than menopause, get ye to a doctor. Now, plz.

Why Being Itchy May Be a Symptom of Menopause

If you are nearing the time of life when you’re expecting to start going through menopause, you are probably starting to experience several symptoms that are making your life less enjoyable.

In addition to the mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness that menopause brings, you might also be affected by pruritus. (1)

Pruritus is the formal name for itchy skin. This condition is a common complaint that dermatologists handle, and it’s even more prevalent during perimenopause and menopause.

Are You Feeling Itchy?

Symptoms commonly associated with being itchy with menopause include…

  • A skin rash that has no apparent cause
  • Dry patches of skin, or dry skin all over
  • Small bumps on the surface of your skin
  • Irritated skin, or skin that is red in colour
  • Strange feelings like crawling, tingling or numbness

Many women first encounter this itchiness on their elbows, or in the T-zone of their face. Other common areas include the back, neck, limbs, chest and face.

This itching with menopause can be incredibly uncomfortable and can cause problems in your life, especially if it disrupts your sleep.

What Causes Itchiness During Menopause?

One of the main sex hormones is estrogen, and it plays a vital role in skin health. As your body begins to go through perimenopause or menopause, your hormones begin to shift, and your estrogen levels decline. (2)

This drop in estrogen levels facilitates many changes in your skin. Your body will no longer have sufficient levels of soluble collagen on hand to rejuvenate your skin cells. This in turn means your skin will lose its suppleness. It will no longer bounce back like it once did, and this is due to lower levels of estrogen. (3)

Beyond this, your skin will not be able to produce as much natural oil as it did in your younger years. These natural oils are important because they are what helps to keep your skin naturally moisturized. Due to the loss of oils and collagen, your skin will rapidly begin to thin out, and it won’t retain moisture very well.

This decrease in collagen levels and your body’s ability to produce oils and hold on to moisture can be directly linked to the declining estrogen levels you will experience during perimenopause and menopause.

All of this contributes to the dry, irritating, crawling sensation of pruritus – or itchy skin.

There are many other things that can contribute to having itchy skin, and it’s important to be aware of them. Some are health-related, while others can be attributed to external sources. (4)

If you are suddenly experiencing itchiness, it could actually be due to some other skin condition such as hives or eczema, though that itch is slightly different from the menopause-related pruritus.

Other internal causes can be issues with your nerves brought about by health problems like diabetes or shingles.

This itching could also be indicative of thyroid disorders, liver disease or certain cancers like lymphoma.

If you are experiencing itchy skin along with other problematic symptoms, be sure to speak with your doctor. They can help run tests and determine if this itchiness is simply a symptom of menopause or if there is actually a deeper cause.

External factors that can cause pruritus are allergic reactions to medications, or to bites and stings from insects, or even food allergies. (5)

Remedies

Thankfully, there are many things available to treat pruritus associated with menopause. You can get treatment over-the-counter or on prescription.

You can buy itch creams at just about any drugstore or retailer with a pharmacy. Look for one that has hydrocortisone levels of at least 1%. These creams can offer temporary relief.

If the itch persists and you just can’t handle it, talk to your doctor about treatment options. There are plenty available. (6)

Your doctor might prescribe a topical steroid cream, patch or lotion. These prescription options contain higher levels of hydrocortisone and other corticosteroids that can relieve the pruritus causing you to be itchy.

Another option your doctor might offer is hormone replacement therapy. This is an option that really gets at the root of the problem, which is the decline in estrogen levels. Hormone replacement therapy is not to be undertaken lightly, though, so be sure to talk it over with your doctor before deciding. (7)

How to Prevent Itchy Skin

Here are a few straightforward ways to help alleviate the symptoms of being itchy due to menopause.

  • Stay hydrated. As discussed earlier, one of the reasons your skin is itchy with menopause is because there is simply not enough moisture in your skin. Help it along by staying hydrated!
  • Take cooler showers. You might enjoy a steaming hot shower or bath, but that heat is drying out your skin even more. Try to take shorter showers, and make sure they are a bit cooler than you are used to.
  • Get your vitamins. Make sure you are getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as B vitamins. The best source for these is from foods like eggs, walnuts, soy and salmon. If you aren’t getting enough, consider a good multivitamin.
  • Put down the scented soaps and lotions. The chemicals used to make the fragrances in soaps and lotions can be harsh to your skin, irritating it even more.

Vergo is an interactive program that gives women the tools to understand their Menopause.

  • The Vergo iOS symptom tracker (emailable to your healthcare provider)
  • The Vergo QuikTrak symptom tracker (the refillable pdf version, also emailable)
  • Vergo’s Interactive Education Program, Journey Without a Roadmap: Understanding Menopause
  • Curated guides to the biggest questions and hottest topics around menopause symptoms and treatment options
  • Must-have information on male menopause: There’s an Andropause? (an overview of what your guy could be going through)
  • Terminology Cheat Sheets

Click the button below for more information!

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Does menopause cause rashes?

While decreasing estrogen levels do have an impact on a person’s skin, there are many other factors involved in skin health. These factors can include:

  • sun exposure or damage
  • dehydration
  • smoking
  • fat redistribution
  • genetics

Skin changes that may occur during menopause include:

Rash

There is no evidence to suggest that menopause is linked to a specific type of rash. However, as a woman approaches menopause, the body becomes significantly more sensitive to changes in temperature, particularly heat.

During and before menopause, a woman may suddenly feel hot and sweaty, causing her face to become flushed or red. These are known as hot flashes, and they can be mild or severe enough to interfere with daily life.

Decreased estrogen levels can cause the skin to become itchy, sensitive, or irritated. Women may also notice that they are more sensitive to itchy fabrics, soaps, or beauty products. Scratching at itchy skin can cause hives and rashes.

A woman who has a rash should consider switching to natural or fragrance-free products to reduce irritation and inflammation. If rashes become especially problematic, she should see a dermatologist for further advice.

Facial hair

The decline in estrogen and other hormones can cause changes in a woman’s hair, causing it to thin or fall out.

During menopause, women may also notice that hair begins to grow on their face where it had not previously grown. This can include under the chin, along the jawline, or on the upper lip.

Women have many options for dealing with unwanted facial hair. Waxing and shaving are easy at-home options. A dermatologist can provide other options, such as laser treatment or hair removal cream.

Thinning skin

As estrogen levels fall, it can cause the skin to get thinner and more delicate, meaning it is more easily damaged. Thinning skin can even lead to more frequent and noticeable bruising.

It is essential to use an SPF 30 sunscreen every day, even when not spending a lot of time in the sun. While sunscreen cannot treat thinning skin, it can prevent it from getting worse.

A woman should see her dermatologist if thin skin presents a serious problem with tearing or injury. The doctor may be able to suggest medical treatments that can help manage the problem.

Dry skin

In addition to thinning skin, women in perimenopause or menopause are more likely to have issues with dry or flaky skin.

This is because estrogen helps the skin to hold on to water, keeping it soft and moist. Without estrogen, the skin is prone to drying out.

To prevent dry skin, people can use a gentler cleanser, as traditional soaps can be particularly drying for older women. Moisturizing right after showering or bathing is best.

People should avoid using exfoliants or other strong products because they can be particularly damaging to delicate or dry skin.

Age spots

Age spots are a common complaint of menopausal women. This is usually a sign of sun damage that has occurred throughout a woman’s lifetime.

Wearing sunscreen consistently and from an early age is the best way to prevent age spots and skin cancer developing later in life.

Some types of skin cancer can look like an age spot, so it is essential to see a dermatologist regularly. The risk of skin cancer increases with age and sun exposure.

Caring for your skin in menopause

You can do something about the changes to your skin and hair that occur in menopause. Menopause, which officially begins one year after your last period, can bring with it some noticeable changes to your skin and hair. As hormone levels plummet, your skin can become dry, slack, and thin. You may notice more hair on your face and less on your scalp.

With the right care, you can lessen these effects. Here’s what dermatologists recommend.

Age spots and other signs of sun-damaged skin

If you’ve spent ample time in the sun without sun protection, you’ll likely see the effects now. Age spots and larger areas of darker skin can appear on your face, hands, neck, arms, or chest.

Skin cancer and pre-cancerous skin growths also become more common.

What you can do

To protect your skin, you want to:

  • Apply sunscreen every day before going outdoors. To give your skin the protection it needs, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Apply it to all skin that clothing won’t cover.
    This can help fade age spots, prevent new spots from forming, and reduce your risk of getting skin cancer.

  • Make an appointment to see a dermatologist for a skin cancer screening. Your risk of getting skin cancer increases with age. As your risk rises, skin cancer screenings become so important. The earlier you find skin cancer and pre-cancerous growths, the more treatable they are.

  • Start skin self-exams. During your dermatology appointment, ask your dermatologist how often you should examine your own skin. You’ll find everything you need to know to examine your skin at, Detect skin cancer.

  • Ask your dermatologist to recommend treatment for age spots. Before you buy any treatment for age spots, see your dermatologist for a skin exam.
    Skin cancer sometimes looks like an age spot or other dark spot on your skin. If you use your age-spot treatment on a skin cancer, you may fade the spot and delay treatment. Delaying treatment for skin cancer gives the cancer time to possibly grow and spread. This can make the cancer more difficult to treat.
    After examining your skin, your dermatologist can recommend an age-spot treatment that’s suitable for your skin.

Bruise easily

As estrogen levels fall, skin becomes thinner. Thin skin bruises more easily.

You may be able reduce thinning skin. Here’s how:

  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day. While this cannot thicken your skin, it can prevent further thinning. You want to apply sunscreen to your face, hands, neck, and any other area that clothing won’t cover. And you want to do this every day, even in winter.

  • Consult with a dermatologist about treatment options. A dermatologist will be honest about what may work for you. For some women, a retinoid cream can help. Laser treatment may be another option.

In menopause, skin loses some ability to hold water, so skin can get quite dry. This can be especially noticeable when the air is dry.

The following can help combat dry skin:

  • Wash with a mild cleanser instead of soap. For mature skin, soap can be too drying. And you definitely want to skip the deodorant bars.

  • Apply moisturizer after bathing and throughout the day when your skin feels dry. A moisturizer with hyaluronic acid or glycerin can be especially helpful.

  • See your dermatologist if your skin still feels dry. Exfoliation or microdermabrasion may help, but you want to see your dermatologist before trying one of these. At menopause, skin becomes thinner and trying one of these at home may cause more harm than good.

As levels of female hormones fall, you can see unwanted hair under your chin and along your jawline or above your lip.

Waxing may be an option. If your skin becomes too thin for waxing, your skin can tear and bleed. To remove unwanted hair, you’ll want to:

  • See your dermatologist. A board-certified dermatologist can tell you what you can use to remove unwanted hair. Options include laser hair removal and a prescription hair-reduction cream.

  • Have a board-certified dermatologist perform laser hair removal, if that’s an option. In skilled hands, this treatment may seem easy. Your risk of side effects increases dramatically when the person performing your laser treatment lacks medical training and in-depth knowledge of the skin.

      Who should perform your cosmetic treatment?
  • Laser hair removal

Hair loss on your head

At menopause, many women notice thinning hair on their head. The first sign may be a widening part. Some women find that their hairline starts to recede.

When it comes to hair loss, the earlier you start treating it the better your results. Because many things can cause hair loss, you’ll want to:

  • See a board-certified dermatologist at the first sign of a problem. Treatment for hair loss depends on the cause. If your hair loss is due to menopause, your dermatologist may recommend minoxidil, laser treatment, or both.
    If you have already lost a considerable amount of hair, a hair transplant may be an option.

      Thinning hair and hair loss: Could it be female pattern hair loss?

Jowls, slack skin, and wrinkles

In menopause, skin quickly loses collagen. Studies show that women’s skin loses about 30% of its collagen during the first five years of menopause. After that, the decline is more gradual. Women lose about 2% of their collagen ever year for the next 20 years.

As collagen diminishes, our skin loses it firmness and begins to sag. Jowls appear. Permanent lines run from the tip of the nose to the corners of the mouth. Wrinkles that used to appear only with a smile or frown become visible all the time.

Later, the tip of the nose dips. You may see pouches under your eyes.

Large pores also are due to lack of skin firmness.

If sagging skin or wrinkles bother you:

  • Protect your skin from the sun. This can reduce visible wrinkles and prevent new wrinkles.
    You’ll find other ways to treat wrinkles at, Wrinkle remedies.

  • Consider using a skin care product that contains retinol or peptides. These ingredients can increase collagen in your skin.

Pimples and other types of acne

As levels of female hormones drop before and during menopause, some women develop teenage-like acne.

Because a woman’s skin is thinner and drier, treatments for teenage acne are often too harsh. Dermatologists recommend that you:

  • Wash acne-prone skin with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid. This helps unclog pores.

  • Avoid acne products that dry your skin. Drying your skin can worsen acne.

  • Make a dermatology appointment if you cannot get acne under control. A hormonal treatment may be necessary.

      10 skin care habits that can worsen acne

Rashes and easily irritated skin

Around 50, the pH level of our skin changes. With this change, skin becomes more sensitive, and women are more likely to develop rashes and easily irritated skin.

If you have an existing skin condition, such as eczema or rosacea, this could worsen.

If you notice any of these changes, you should:

  • Use a fragrance-free moisturizer. This can reduce irritation.

  • See a board-certified dermatologist if the rash lasts or a skin condition worsens. As skin becomes drier and more easily irritated, you may need a dermatologist’s help.

Wounds heal more slowly

Hormones play an important role in healing our skin. When hormones levels fall, skin takes longer to heal.

  • Realize that your skin will heal. It may take longer now.

  • See a board-certified dermatologist if an infection or other skin problem occurs. When skin takes longer to heal, you have a greater risk of getting an infection or other skin problem.

What changes will you make?

Now that you know what to expect, you also know there’s a lot you can do to diminish these changes. If all this seems overwhelming, a board-certified dermatologist can create an effective treatment plan that delivers noticeable results.

Find a dermatologist

Images
Getty Images

Hall G and Phillips TJ. “Estrogen and skin: The effects of estrogen, menopause, and hormone replacement therapy on the skin.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2005;53:555-68.

Kunin A. “Menopause and your skin: There is something you can do.” In: Kunin A. DERMAdoctor: Skinstruction manual. Simon & Schuster, United States of America, 2005:339-45.

Neder L and Sebastião Freitas de M. “Topical estradiol does not interfere with the expression of the metalloproteinase-1 enzyme in photo exposed skin cells.” An. Bras. Dermatol. 2012;87:70-5.

White GM and Cox NH “Disorders of hair.” In: White GM and Cox NH. Diseases of the skin: A color atlas and text (second edition) Mosby Elsevier, China, 2006:588-9.

Does Menopause Cause Pain?

Your menstrual cycle is regulated by the luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. These two hormones are manufactured in the pituitary gland. They stimulate the ovaries to produce estrogen and progesterone. During perimenopause and menopause these hormones fluctuate and can cause the following painful symptoms.

Cramps and breast tenderness

Changes in your period may be accompanied by cramping that is more painful and intense than you were used to. You may also experience increased breast tenderness before and during menstruation. And you may find that your menstrual flow is light some months and heavy during others.

Migraine headaches

Fluctuations in estrogen are linked to migraine headaches. You may get migraines for the first time or see an increase in severity or frequency during perimenopause.

Some women have the reverse reaction, and see a reduction in migraine occurrence as they enter menopause. This may be because high levels of estrogen can trigger headaches and diminishing levels can cause a decrease.

Joint pain

Menopause may cause joint pain that can affect the knees, shoulders, neck, elbows, or hands. Old joint injuries may begin to ache. As time goes on, you may start to notice that you feel more aches and pains in those areas than you used to. That’s because estrogen helps to reduce inflammation. As it’s levels decline, inflammation may increase, causing discomfort and menopause-related arthritis.

Bruising

The outside of the body is also affected by fluctuating and declining hormones. Low levels of estrogen can cause a decrease in skin’s elasticity. It also lessens skin’s ability to retain water, which it uses as a buffer against injury. This makes skin thinner, and painful bruising is often the result. The backs of the hands are particularly sensitive to bruising.

Fibromyalgia

For women diagnosed with fibromyalgia, menopause may bring heightened sensitivity to pain. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that is often diagnosed for the first time in women entering perimenopause or menopause.

Some symptoms of menopause like pain, fatigue, and vaginal dryness overlap with those associated with fibromyalgia. For that reason, it is not always easy to determine which issue is causing the symptoms.

Pain during intercourse

Pain can sometimes accompany sex when you’re in menopause. This can make maintaining intimacy challenging. But women can find ways to keep their sex lives pleasurable during perimenopause, menopause, and beyond.

Estrogen, the hormone which is in short supply during menopause, helps keep vaginal tissues elastic. It also supports moisture production in the vagina, which helps to make sex comfortable. As estrogen levels recede, vaginal tissues get thinner. This can make intercourse painful. The vagina also becomes less lubricated, and more prone to inflammation, dryness, and tearing.

Vaginal atrophy can also occur. This can cause the vagina to shrink and shorten in length. Vaginal atrophy is often accompanied by urinary tract symptoms, such as:

  • urinary leakage
  • burning during urination
  • urgent need to urinate

Changes in hormone levels may also create a reduction in sexual desire, and a lessened ability to become sexually stimulated. This can make it even harder for the vagina to become lubricated.

These changes may happen at any point during perimenopause or menopause.

The Link Between Menopause and Joint Pain

The list of menopausal side effects is extensive – from mood swings, to hot flashes, fatigue and more; and while achy, swollen joints are a common side effect of aging, recent studies have found that they can also be a side effect of menopause. The primary female hormone, estrogen, protects joints and reduces inflammation, but when estrogen levels drop during menopause, inflammation can increase, the risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can go up and the result can be painful joints.

To explain further, osteoporosis, which causes bones to be brittle and weak due to hormonal changes found in women going through menopause, put women at risk for developing osteoarthritis, which is characterized by swollen and painful joints. So, while there may or may not be a direct physical link between menopause and joint pain, the two often go hand-in-hand.

How to Recognize Menopausal Joint Pain:
Menopausal joint pain is usually worse in the morning when joints are stiff from disuse overnight, but tends to lighten up as the day progresses and movement increases. Joints that are most frequently affected during menopause are the neck, jaw, shoulders, wrists and elbows; though other joints in the body may experience pain as well. The discomfort is commonly described as stiffness, swelling, shooting pains and even a burning sensation after working out.

What Can You Do?
If you are going through menopause and experiencing joint pain, there are a few ways to reduce your discomfort and make managing your symptoms a little easier.

1. Get Regular Exercise. It may seem counter-intuitive, but regular exercise is the key to living a life free of joint pain. Countless studies have shown that exercise is good for your mind and your heart, but we now know that it’s also beneficial for bone strength. Choosing consistent, low-impact exercise such as swimming, biking, hiking and yoga, can help prevent your joints from becoming sore and stiff.

2. Maintain a Healthy Diet. In addition to getting regular exercise, eating a healthy, balanced diet will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to endure the unwelcome side effects of menopause, including joint pain. For example, adding protein to your diet can help to promote and maintain muscle mass, which is vital for bone support.

3. Quit Smoking. If you smoke, now is the time to quit. Smoking can increase your risk of cardiovascular issues, diabetes, cancer and even bones loss. Smoking can slow or prevent the ability of your bones to heal properly, meaning joint pain and stiffness may be more common in menopausal women who smoke.

4. Call the Experts. If menopausal joint pain has you unable to live the life you’d like to, we invite you to consult one of our orthopedic doctors in Seattle and surrounding areas to learn what non-surgical or surgical options may be right for you. Specializing in procedures including ACL reconstruction, knee arthroscopy and more, our orthopedic physicians will help you return to a healthy, happy and pain-free life.

Joint Pain and Menopause

The list of menopausal side effects is extensive – from mood swings to hot flashes, fatigue and more; and while achy, swollen joints are a common side effect of aging, recent studies have found that it’s also one of the side effects of menopause.

Joint pain affects many people as they get older and is also common among menopausal women. Aches, stiffness and swelling around the joint and sometimes heat are common symptoms of menopausal joint pain. As a woman approaches menopause, her body goes through drastic hormonal fluctuations that can affect her in many ways. The medical community is unclear as to why menopause seems to have this effect on joints. One theory is that estrogen affects joints by keeping inflammation down. As estrogen levels decline, the joints can swell and become painful.

Menopause symptoms, such as joint pain is associated with both osteoporosis and arthritis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones lose density and can become brittle. Arthritis is the medical term for “inflammation,” and can refer to many different types of joint conditions. Some of the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These conditions are complicated and varied, so it’s important to make an appointment with us to discuss your concerns.

What Does Joint Pain Feel Like?

Menopausal joint pain usually hits the worst in the morning and eases as the joints loosen up with the day’s activities. Most women complain of pain in the neck, jaw, shoulders, and elbows, but wrists and fingers can also be affected.

The pain can be accompanied by stiffness, swelling, or even a shooting pain traveling down the back, arms, and legs. Some women report more of a burning sensation, especially after a work-out.

Easing Joint Pain During Menopause

Aching fingers, tight hips, sore knees…joint pain is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. If you’re feeling a bit stiff and sore, especially in the mornings, there are things you can do to manage the inflammation and pain.

Making an appointment with your primary care physician or gynecologist is a good first step towards alleviating your joint pain; however, there are many simple, non-invasive ways to treat joint pain by making some changes to your daily routine.

Keeping active

Exercise is a great way to strengthen your joints and stay flexible. Swimming, tai chi, and yoga are great options for seniors. Avoid activities that put a lot of strain on your joints, like jogging. Staying active can also help keep your weight down, which can relieve some of the pressure on your joints.

It gives you more energy and joint flexibility, eases depression, and fights heart disease. It curbs the weight gain and insomnia that often come with menopause. Weight-bearing exercise helps protect against osteoporosis. This may be lifestyle changes you may need to make to lessen your menopause symptoms.

De-stress

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is known to excite inflammation in the joints. Practicing stress relief techniques and getting regular exercise can manage cortisol levels.

Watch your diet

Diets high in carbohydrates and sugars and low in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to trigger chronic inflammation. Replace white bread, white rice, and flour with whole grain foods like wheat bread and pasta, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa. Choose seafood like fresh tuna, salmon, and mackerel, and seek out leafy greens like kale and spinach. Some foods, like blackberries, blueberries, and cherries, provide the body with natural anti-inflammatories. You can also supercharge your diet with omega-3 and vitamin D supplements.

Over-the-counter medication

Hyaluronic acid might help lubricate the joints, and ibuprofen can help relieve everyday aches and pains.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy is the most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms.

Every woman is different. Some with rheumatoid arthritis find that menopause can affect their RA.

Researchers aren’t sure why, but hormones seem to play a role in RA. Nearly three times as many women get the disease as men. Many women who have it see their symptoms improve while they’re pregnant. This may be because their estrogen levels go up during pregnancy.

Estrogen levels drop around the time of menopause. When that happens, RA symptoms may worsen. Some women first get symptoms around the time they start menopause.

You might think that taking estrogen would reduce RA symptoms along with the symptoms of menopause, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. And because hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is linked with heart disease — another increased risk for women with rheumatoid arthritis – doctors rarely recommend it for treating menopause symptoms in women with RA.

What if my Joint Pain is Severe?

If fever or weight loss accompanies your joint pain, or if the pain becomes worse and lasts more than a few days, please contact your doctor.

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Dr. Thaïs Aliabadi

Highly-trained and honored by the medical community, Dr. Thais Aliabadi is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a Diplomat of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She implements the most advanced, state-of-the-art technology and treatment options. Dr. Aliabadi specializes in up-to-date, minimally invasive surgical techniques, promising her patients shorter recovery times, reduced pain, and the least interruption to their daily lives.

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5 Things Nobody Ever Tells You About Menopause

I first started experiencing symptoms of menopause about fifteen years ago. I was a registered nurse at the time, and I felt prepared for the transition. I would sail right through it.

But I was astonished by the myriad of symptoms. Menopause was affecting me mentally, physically, and emotionally. For support, I leaned on a group of girlfriends who were all experiencing the same difficulties.

We all lived in different places, so we met annually on one weekend for 13 years. We exchanged stories and shared helpful tips or remedies for managing our menopause symptoms. We laughed a lot, and we cried a lot — together. Using our collective wisdom, we started the Menopause Goddess Blog.

There is a lot of information out there on symptoms like hot flashes, dryness, decreased libido, anger, and depression. But there are five other important symptoms we rarely hear of. Read on to learn more about these symptoms and how they may affect you.

1. Brain fog

Seemingly overnight, my ability to process information and solve problems was compromised. I thought I was losing my mind, and I didn’t know if I’d ever get it back.

It felt like an actual cloud of fog had rolled into my head, obscuring the world around me. I couldn’t remember common words, how to read a map, or balance my checkbook. If I made a list, I would leave it somewhere and forget where I put it.

Like the majority of menopause symptoms, brain fog is temporary. Still, it helps to take steps to decrease its effects.

How to deal

Exercise your brain. Play word games or learn a new language. Online brain exercise programs like Lumosity open new pathways by enhancing neuroplasticity. You can take an online course in a foreign language or whatever else interests you. I still play Lumosity. I feel like my brain is stronger now than before this menopause.

2. Anxiety

I was never an anxious person, until menopause.

I would wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares. I found myself worrying about everything and anything. What’s making that weird noise? Are we out of cat food? Is my son going to be OK when he’s on his own? And, I was always assuming the worst possible outcomes for things.

Anxiety can affect your life during menopause. It can cause you to feel doubt and unease. However, if you’re able to recognize it as a symptom of menopause and nothing more, you may be able to regain more control of your thoughts.

Try deep breathing and meditation. Valerian and CBD oil can relax severe anxiety. Be sure to ask your doctor if these are right for you.

3. Hair loss

When my hair began to thin and fall out, I panicked. I would wake up with clumps of hair on my pillow. When I showered, hair would cover the drain. Many of my Menopause Goddess sisters experienced the same thing.

My hairdresser told me not to worry and that it was just hormonal. But that wasn’t comforting. I was losing my hair!

My hair stopped falling out several months later, but it hasn’t regained its volume. I’ve learned how to work with my new hair.

Get a layered haircut and use a volumizing cream for style. Highlights can also make your hair look thicker. Shampoos made for thinning hair help, too.

4. Fatigue

The fatigue during menopause can consume you. Sometimes, I’d wake up after a full night’s rest still feeling tired.

Be kind to yourself until the worst of it passes. Take frequent breaks and sleep when you need to. Treat yourself to a massage. Stay home and read a book instead of running an errand. Slow down.

5. Immune dysfunction

Menopause also takes a toll on your immune system. While you’re going through menopause, you may have your first outbreak of shingles. You’re at a higher risk of infection because of immune dysfunction.

I contracted a cardiac virus at the onset of menopause. I made a full recovery, but it took a year and a half.

Healthy eating, exercise, and stress reduction can support your immune system, preventing or lessening any effects.

Takeaway

The most important thing to remember is that these are symptoms of menopause and that they’re normal. Women can handle anything when they know what to expect. Practice self-care and be kind to yourself. Menopause may seem scary at first, but it can also bring a new beginning.

Lynette Sheppard, RN, is an artist and writer who hosts the popular Menopause Goddess Blog. Within the blog, women share humor, health, and heart about menopause and menopause remedies. Lynette is also the author of the book “Becoming a Menopause Goddess.”

Menopause Symptoms – An Overview

Women experience a wide range of menopausal symptoms in advance of the menopause – the final cessation of menstruation, ovulation and fertility. We bring you some of these real-life experiences.

Menopause symptoms can be very challenging – seek out advice and support!

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Menopause symptoms can be physical and mental/emotional

During perimenopause and menopause, you may experience a wide range of uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms. See the list of symptoms later in this article and read the real experiences of women who have generously shared their stories. The difficulty for many of us is that menopause isn’t spoken about openly so you may not associate some of the difficulties you are experiencing with menopause and therefore won’t know where to turn to for help. My Second Spring offers you information, support and clarity. Join our community where women say they feel so much less alone and know they aren’t going crazy!

Around 70% of women are affected by symptoms of menopause

Some women will go through menopause and hardly be aware of the transition. But around 70% of women are affected by menopausal symptoms that are caused by changing hormone levels. As your hormone levels fluctuate and ovarian function declines, you may experience symptoms intermittently. For example, missing periods for several months only to see them reappear in your normal pattern several months later. You may go through times of feeling very unmotivated, lacking in confidence and even experience anxiety and panic attacks for the first time in your life. Because hormones like oestrogen and progesterone are present in a huge number of cells in our bodies different body systems may be affected by hormone fluctuations at menopause. This varies from one woman to the next but it could be your skin, your brain, your joints or your hair that is affected. Many symptoms can be managed by making lifestyle changes.

What is the best remedy for menopause?

Your lifestyle and expectations of menopause can make a huge difference to how your experience menopause. Look closely at the following aspects of life. Make changes that are manageable and not too drastic. It’s a long term effect that you’re aiming for not an overnight ‘fix’.

  • Look at how you eat: if necessary cut down on junk food, sugars and fats. Eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains (organic where possible). Fish and lean meat. Reduce dairy and red meat.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. If this is a new thing for you just walk for 30 minutes but try to do it every day.
  • Give up smoking,
  • Reduce alcohol intake – more example, only drink when you are with people you really like
  • Managing stress levels can considerably impact menopausal symptoms. Add yoga, meditation or sitting quietly – whatever appeals to you.

Any changes that you make toward a healthier lifestyle can have a great impact in reducing these painful and stressful symptoms.

Most women I speak to dearly want to manage their symptoms without recourse to medicines. However, sometimes you may need to control symptoms through taking medication or HRT for a limited amount of time. Many of you will find you can manage symptoms by making changes to lifestyle and by using therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, reflexology or Feldenkrais.

    The menopause can be a journey into the unknown.

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What are the most common symptoms of the menopause?

The most common symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause are listed below. Click on the title links for more in-depth information and guidance on how to manage these symptoms. We offer a wide range of tips and techniques on these individual pages.

  • Changing or irregular periods
  • Hot flushes
  • Night Sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Tender or painful breasts
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety, mood swings, irritability and depression
  • Loss of confidence, feelings of being invisible
  • Changes in libido or sex drive
  • Weight gain
  • Dry skin
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Increased PMS
  • Urinary leakage or urgency
  • Aches and pains in muscles and joints
  • Bloating

Many of you will experience a range of these early symptoms of menopause. These are caused by changing levels of hormone production in your body, particularly the reduction of oestrogen produced in the ovaries. At this stage, you may well still have periods – this causes confusion amongst many women and indeed their doctors, who wrongly assume that symptoms of the menopause only occur after periods stop. It is very common to experience your first menopausal symptoms whilst still having periods.

    Therapies such as Feldenkrais can be helpful in managing menopause symptoms.

What age does menopause take place at?

Menopausal symptoms typically start in the mid-40s in what is called the perimenopause. At this stage, the symptoms may be mild. By the late 40s around 70% of us will have noticed some physical changes in periods and body temperature. We may also experience some psychological issues like anxiety, fuzzy thinking, memory lapses or low confidence.

Do all women suffer from menopausal symptoms?

Around 70% of women experience some or all of the symptoms mentioned above. Only about 10% will require help from their doctor. Some women are fortunate and will pass through menopause with no recognition of symptoms at all.

What causes menopausal symptoms?

Menopausal symptoms take place as the body re-adjusts to the fact that the ovaries are slowing down their production of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This is because the ovaries are preparing to stop producing eggs for fertilization, usually at the mid-life stage.

A gradual shift is taking place and these hormones will now be produced primarily in other parts of the body including the adrenal glands, the brain and fat cells in the skin. Uncomfortable symptoms are usually a sign that the body is making natural adjustments and may need support.

“So glad you have an ebook. Love the friendly approach & top tips. Highly recommend!” B

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Supporting the changes taking place at menopause

It is very helpful as a starting point to understand what is happening during menopause and embrace this process with plenty of advice and support. Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and stress can have a big influence on menopausal symptoms. Key changes we should consider are to:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce or stop smoking
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Reduce stress
  • Eat healthily
  • Take regular exercise

How long do symptoms of menopause last?

It’s very difficult to say what exactly you should expect, every woman is different and menopause symptoms are very variable and can last from a few months to several years.

What are the key post-menopausal symptoms?

Post-menopausal symptoms may be the result of oestrogen deficiency and its impact on the skin, hair, bladder, vagina and bones. These include:

  • Lack of periods
  • Osteoporosis
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Skin itching, bruising and wrinkling due to lack of collagen
  • Thinning of hair
  • Growth of unwanted hair, probably due to unbalanced testosterone levels
  • Urinary problems: infections, increased frequency and urgency
  • Prolapse.

Thank you very much to all the fantastic women who have left comments here in the past. This is a sample of what they are saying:

“Hi, I’ve experienced lots of what others have yet never associated them with the menopause until reading others comments on here. I’ve had the usual hot flushes, forgetfulness which are common symptoms however I thought the anxiety, sore gums teeth clenching and dizziness must have been other health issues. it’s such a shame so many women aren’t aware of the link as it does help you to accept these things.”

Hi to all the wonderful ladies who have contributed to this discussion thread, you have no idea how comforting it was to read all your comments and know that what I’m going through is COMPLETELY normal. I have literally been feeling like I’m dying – from joint and muscle pain to overwhelming anxiety and chest pains, I have felt it all.

Thank you again to all the wonderful ladies who have shared their symptoms and remedies they’ve tried, it certainly makes me feel NORMAL and not like I’m losing my mind. I have just begun hormone therapy as I feel that I had no choice seeing it’s interfering with my ability to work – unfortunately I’m not in a position where I can retire, as I have to keep working to support myself financially – I keep playing lotto as, at present, that is my only HOPE of stopping work and not having to deal with people who have absolutely no empathy for women going through menopause.

“Hi everybody your comments have really helped me. I’m 45 and I went through all that you have mentioned. but I am worried because it is now 1 year and I have not seen my periods. will it come again or it is over? sometimes my lower abdomen feels painful and think that it is coming, but does not come. Please continue giving us advice about it. hot flashes and nausea started one year ago, then periods started coming little by little until it stopped. thank you all for your comments and give me advice if I should take any medicine to have my periods back or It is just normal.”

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  • Symptoms of menopause can include an increase in sweat production, which can lead to changes in body odor. Hot flashes and night sweats have a strong effect, although psychological symptoms such as depression, panic attacks, or anxiety can lead to an increase in the incidence of sweating as well. More sweat leads to changes in body odor.

    During menopause, hormones fluctuate and are the leading cause for increased body door. When estrogen levels drop a false message is sent to the hypothalamus telling it that the body is overheated. The hypothalamus then causes an increase in sweat production and changes in body odor.

    Tips for helping with body odor during menopause:

    Bathe every day, this will remove bacteria from your skin.

    Wear looser fitting clothes during menopause and stay away from synthetic fabrics.

    Consume less meat, onions,garlic, coffee and alcohol, as these foods can increase body odor.

    Try drinking less coffee and eating less spicy food, dress in layers, always have water with you.

    Sweating is a big deal during menopause, those hot flashes are fast and furious.

    At night try wearing cotton pyjamas and use cotton sheets.

    Lastly put your head in a cool freezer !

    You are probably thinking “this is great but I need a good deodorant for when I am out and about!”.

    At 51 my body is not as sweaty as a couple of years ago, but I still get pretty stinky without a deodorant. I have been using a natural deodorant that I now make and sell. I love my natural deodorant as it has kept me smelling fresh during both peri-menopause and menopause. It is an all natural deodorant without any aluminum, parabens or chemicals.

    I like knowing I am using a product that is healthy for me and my pits.
    After all armpits have a lot of lymph nodes around them and everything you put on your skin is absorbed into your body.

    Have a good sense of humour during menopause!

    If you’d like to try an all natural deodorant

    “Do I stink?”

    This thought goes through my head at least 10 times a day.

    My menopausal boob sweat is making me paranoid. I know, that sounds gross, right? It kind of is.

    If you haven’t begin to experience the fun of menopause or perimenopause, well … I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it kind of stinks. Literally stinks.

    I’m 49 and I’ve been in the throes of full-on menopause for over a year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show signs of letting up, although I keep hoping and watching my body for signs that we’re almost done with this sideshow. I’m hot and not in a good way. I have hot flashes, night sweats, and day sweats. If we could find a way to channel the heat emitting from my body, we could save a ton on energy bills. I’m not just talking about my house, now. I’m pretty sure my crazy body temperatures could heat all the houses on my street this winter.

    But the boob sweat is the very worst. Chesty girls know what I’m talking about … those telltale spots of sweat that appear at the top of your ribcage, usually during summer when everyone is hot. As a D-cup, boob sweat has been something I’ve dealt with all my life. It is what it is. My boobalicious sisters out there know that it’s just part of life that a well-endowed girl has to get used to.

    But menopausal boob sweat is different. It smells really bad and it’s driving me crazy. I have this spot between my boobs that sweat collects in and it reeks. Really bad. I’m super paranoid that other people are going to catch a whiff of me and think I’m some kind of gross person who doesn’t bathe.

    This wasn’t something I had to worry about when I was younger. I showered. I put on deodorant. I left the house. I did things. I didn’t worry about how I smelled or if I stunk. I certainly didn’t make periodic swipes down my blouse and sniff my fingers to see if that boob sweat odor was present. No one caught me pulling the neckline of my tee shirt up over my nose so I could get a really good whiff, but those self-checks are part of my everyday reality now.

    I’m constantly sniffing and worrying about the B.O. that typically shows up by noon each day, regardless of whether I’ve overexerted myself or not. I carry perfumed body spray around with me. I have spares in every purse, in my car, and in my desk drawer. Sometimes I take more than one shower a day. Sometimes I take more than two.

    I get nervous when I get too close to people. When I’m standing in line at the grocery store, I worry that other people can smell me. I imagine the person in line behind me is wrinkling their nose and whispering about me. I envision Facebook status updates like “OMG this line is sooo long and the old lady in front of me is a Stinky McStinkerton.”

    People have started to notice my compulsive sniffing. I’ve been busted a few times. I’ve gotten weird looks from total strangers while trying to stealthily sniff down my shirt. I have no idea what people are thinking when they see me in the produce aisle trying to bend my body in half so I can stick my nose between my boobs. I can’t imagine what I would think if I saw someone else doing that. Actually, I can imagine. I’d think they were nuts.

    Hopefully, my hot flash sizzling will simmer down. My doctor tells me that my internal thermometer will return to normal when my hormones stabilize … whatever that even means. There were a lot of things I expected from menopause but being constantly worried about that old lady sweaty smell was not one of them.

    I’m gonna keep on sniffing. It might look weird, but I’d rather know, you know? If someone sees me with my nose down my shirt and comes to the conclusion that I have some weird habit of smelling myself, I can live with that.

    I’ll take people thinking I’m strange over thinking I smell bad any day.

    Jill Robbins Jill Robbins is a published author, and award winning writer, speaker and wine snob.

    Diminishing ovarian function, one of the early stages of menopause, can lead to some very real physical symptoms that can last for years, as hormone levels fall and fluctuate. The severity of these symptoms often depends on how gradual or sudden the changes are. Check out the list below to learn more. From Before Your Time: The Early Menopause Survival Guide by Evelina Weidman Sterling, Ph.D., and Angie Best-Boss

    Weight Gain
    Gaining weight around your waist or abdomen is often referred to as “male-pattern” weight gain. This “apple” shape is more common among men. “Female-pattern” weight gain often results in a more “pear” shape, with extra weight settling around the hips, thighs, and buttocks. After ovarian function begins to diminish, women’s metabolisms change and fat tends to be redistributed even when they keep up their diet and exercise routines. Maintain a healthy weight in order to help prevent cardiovascular disease or other long-term health concerns. Talk with your health care provider or nutritionist about any concerns you have about your weight and how to best go about losing weight.

    Dry or Itchy Skin
    Dryness seems to be a common theme during hormonal changes. Also, your skin may feel supersensitive or tingle.

    Wrinkles
    While some wrinkling is due to aging, additional hormonal changes cause skin to lose some of its elasticity and become thinner. Wrinkles may start to appear in the delicate tissues around the eyes, cheeks, and lips. These can result in “crow’s feet” or smile lines in areas that were once smooth and supple.

    Hair Loss or Thinning
    Because hair follicles need estrogen, hair loss or thinning among women is a result of lower levels of estrogen. Hair coming out as you brush it or unusually dry or brittle hair can be an initial sign of changing hormones.

    Increased Facial Hair
    Given the low levels of female hormones in your body, your male hormones have a great influence on increased facial hair growth. This can include increased hair (or darker, coarser hair) on the chin, upper lip, chest (including around your nipples), or abdomen.

    Changes in Body Odor
    Increased body odor associated with hormone changes doesn’t have anything to do with perspiration. Normal bacteria are having a heyday because your metabolism is changing and your body is ridding itself of excess waste due to hormonal imbalances. Body odor can present as foot odor, sweaty or smelly hands, bad breath, or armpit odor.

    Changes in Nails
    As hormones fluctuate, fingernails and toenails can become softer and crack or break more easily.

    Dry Eyes
    Because changes in hormones typically contribute to the drying out of the skin, why not the eyes, too? These types of hormonal changes make women more likely to experience dry eyes and accompanying symptoms such as eye irritation and blurred vision.

    Emotional Changes
    Changing hormone levels (whatever the cause) can create an emotional roller coaster. Often, these symptoms are more prominent than the more physical symptoms. With ovarian insufficiency, unlike in more traditional menopause, this is not a time to celebrate or to look forward to that “postmenopausal zest”—what Margaret Mead originally described as a wave of relief, knowing that you have survived the perimenopausal chaos. The emotional toll that diminishing ovarian function takes, in addition to the typical emotional changes initiated by changing hormone levels, can lead to an even more harrowing emotional experience.

    Foggy Feelings
    Sometimes changing hormone levels cause women to feel “not quite right.” This may include an overall “fogginess” or feelings of general malaise. Unfortunately, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact feelings other than that something odd is going on.

    Irritability and Aggressiveness
    If you are feeling irritable or unusually aggressive, there is a good chance it is connected to your changing hormones. In fact, this is one of the most common emotional changes that women experience.

    Mood Swings
    Mood swings are another major emotional change sparked by changing hormone levels. Some women liken these changes to PMS—only constant. Reacting to changing levels of estrogen, women experience highs, lows, and everything in between. Though feelings of sadness or “blues” are typical as ovarian function diminishes, severe or clinical depression is not a symptom and should be further evaluated if experienced.

    Nervousness and Anxiety
    With anxiety, there is a sense of foreboding or that something is terribly wrong. Anxiety-related symptoms include trembling, sweating, and being easily startled.

    Memory Lapses
    Memory problems may also be related to ovarian insufficiency. Even though there are no known connections between memory and changing hormones, many women experience some sort of short-term memory loss. Some believe that this is related to the stress associated with going though ovarian insufficiency, especially when it occurs at a young age.

    Confusion or Lack of Concentration
    Women experiencing hormone changes may also have difficulty concentrating. It is important to keep your mind engaged and stimulated in order to lessen the effects of this symptom.

    Fatigue and Lack of Energy
    Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of hormone fluctuations. It is described as an ongoing and persistent feeling of weakness, tiredness, and lowered energy level. While many women also experience difficulty sleeping, fatigue is more lack of energy than drowsiness. While fatigue and lack of energy are not emotional symptoms per se, these symptoms can easily exacerbate many other emotional symptoms you may be feeling.

    ABOUT THE AUTHORS
    Evelina Weidman Sterling, Ph.D., is a nationally recognized public health researcher and educator specializing in fertility and women’s health issues. Angie Best-Boss has a master’s degree in counseling and is a freelance writer focusing on women’s health. Together they are the authors of Before Your Time: The Early Menopause Survival Guide (Copyright © 2010 Evelina Weidman Sterling and Angie Best-Boss) and Budgeting for Infertility: How to Bring Home a Baby Without Breaking the Bank.

    MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHORS

    • 7 Tips for a Faster Recovery From a Hysterectomy

    LEARN MORE

    • Read Chapter 1 of Before Your Time: The Early Menopause Survival Guide
    • Browse more books by the authors

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